Developing 'A Personal Knowing'
: A Grounded Theory Study

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


The past 30 years have seen rapid expansion in nursing roles, and the provision of education that supports them. However, the nature of the knowledge that characterises advanced practice, and the pedagogical strategies that are utilised in catalysing its development have yet to be extensively evaluated. Whilst a number of frameworks which purport to conceptualise this knowledge do exist, such structures remain somewhat provisional. Likewise, the pedagogical approaches employed in the development of knowledge for advanced practice are derived as much from teacher preference, organisational expedience, and external policy drivers as educational efficacy. The study presented within this thesis addresses these challenges by examining the knowledge conceptualisation process in relation to two student cohorts undertaking ‘Advanced Practice’ study at Masters level within the author’s employing university. A programme utilising a conventional pedagogical approach has been contrasted with one employing a more collaborative modality; this facilitates an evaluation of the impact of the respective learning and teaching approaches upon the dynamic creation and modification of the practitioners’ knowledge base.

A Constructivist Grounded Theory methodology was selected in order to explore these processes. A purposive sample of 24 participants was recruited from across both programmes; a series of interviews was undertaken, and data analysis resulted in both the induction of a substantive theory of Developing A Personal Knowing, and the identification of a range of pedagogical strategies that catalyse its growth. The findings are of particular utility for those involved in the development of advanced practice curricula, and have been used illustratively to underpin a nascent curriculum framework presented in the latter part of the thesis. A number of significant findings emerge; a need to maintain the primacy of clinical practice, the importance of a collaborative approach to learning and teaching in which individual learner agency is maintained, and the key role of group reflection in assimilating the plurality of knowledge forms that ultimately constitute an individual’s personal theory of practice.
Date of Award16 Mar 2017
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorAndrew Rogers (Supervisor) & Catherine Jones (Supervisor)


  • pedagogy
  • grounded theory
  • advanced practice
  • higher education
  • collaborative learning
  • Nursing

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